Clare Boothe Luce Additional Biography

Biography

Ann Clare Boothe was born April 10, 1903, in New York City. Her father abandoned the family when she was eight years old, and her mother was...

(The entire section is 449 words.)

Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Clare Boothe Luce (lews), one of the most talented and versatile women of the twentieth century, was born into genteel poverty to Ann Snyder, a former chorus girl, and William Franklin Boothe, a violinist and itinerant businessman. Her father moved his family from city to city until he deserted Ann Clare Boothe and her younger brother, David. With the aid of friends and scholarships, Clare attended private schools: St. Mary’s Cathedral School in Garden City, New York, and Miss Mason’s School, “The Castle,” in Tarrytown, New York, graduating in 1919. For a brief time, she studied acting at Clare Tree Major’s School of Theatre in New York City. Her original ambition was to be an actress.{$S[A]Boothe Luce, Clare;Luce, Clare Boothe}

After graduation, she took a job in Dennison’s paper factory for eighteen dollars a week. With this money, she studied typing and shorthand (stenography). During this period, she began to write short stories and poetry. She wrote Stuffed Shirts, a collection of lampoons on New York society, focusing on social faux pas and social triumphs of the wealthy during the 1920’s. Set mostly in New York and Newport, Rhode Island, this satire became a hallmark of much of the author’s subsequent writing.

She married the wealthy George Tuttle Brokaw, with whom she had her only child, Ann Clare. The marriage ended in divorce in 1929. Boothe then went on to Vogue magazine as a captions writer for picture features. From there, she moved to Vanity Fair magazine, where she developed her skills as an editor and where she met her husband Henry Robinson Luce, whom she married in 1935. He had founded Time magazine and the business periodical Fortune. Later, at his wife’s suggestion, he would found Life magazine as well as Sports Illustrated.

In the same year as her marriage, Clare Boothe Luce’s first play, Abide with Me, opened on Broadway. An unsuccessful play with autobiographical overtones, it portrays a wealthy alcoholic married to a young, terrified wife. Luce won international fame the next year with The Women. The drama satirizes a small group of wealthy Park Avenue wives who reveal human frailties and double standards. Her exposure of selected feminine types...

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Bibliography

Baldrige, Letitia. Of Diamonds and Diplomats. New York: Lanewood Press, 1969. Luce appears in Baldrige’s popular memoir of life at the White House.

Fearnow, Stephen. Clare Boothe Luce: A Research and Production Source Book. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1995. Offers a detailed look at Luce’s dramatic works. A survey of her plays and the world’s reception of them, the book provides a thorough treatment of her published and unpublished writings as well as an annotated bibliography of reviews and criticism.

Morris, Sylvia. Rage for Fame: The Ascent of Clare Boothe Luce. New York: Random House, 1997. Describes Luce’s rise from obscurity by what Morris calls the sheer force of brains and sex appeal. There is little sympathy here for the subject, but gossipy details abound. Morris used Luce’s diaries to craft this biography.